Friday, 30 July 2010

You know when Nick Clegg said that this was going to be the most radical, reforming government since 1911?

Well, now I believe him. Wow.

The 'Citizen's Income' model of benefits is something I've idly talked about as a lovely, lovely theory with politically-minded friends on more than one occasion.

Did you know there are 58 benefits an out-of-work person might claim, each one requiring its own mammoth form-filling task, and the presenting of various proofs of entitlement? Can you imagine what a complete and total arse-ache that is if you find yourself out of work and broke?

Now imagine that every person of working age gets a single benefit. In a similar way to the tax credits helpline, there's a number to call to inform of any change in your circumstances, and the amount of benefit you get rises according to various needs, such as disability or dependent children. If you work, your taxed wages are in addition to your benefit, making benefit fraud hotlines a thing of the past. If you are out of work, you know you won't have a lengthy wait to be assessed for eligibility for benefit, as you already receive it and will continue to do so. No stigma, less stress.

Pretty cool, huh?

Looks like we might really see it happen in this parliament!


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Gwenhwyfaer said...

Fine - but how does that square with the inherently flawed plans for the inherently flawed ESA reassessments which are coming up?

From my own perspective, I wish the government would announce that all action is frozen until they've decided what they're going to be doing. The uncertainty, and in particular the fear of having to negotiate the frankly evil WCA, is scaring, depressing and more or less paralysing me; I cannot even make any kind of plan for the future at the moment, because I don't know what is going on and every day I hear something that makes me lie in bed shaking all over again. Never mind the actual reassessment process - the threats being made at the moment are already vastly increasing my suffering and laying waste to the remains of my mental health.

Steph Ashley said...

@Gwenhwyfaer - I really haven't got a political or a bureaucratic aanswer for that one, I'm probably less in the know than you are regarding reassessments. Are people being notified individually of something? Because it was my understanding that the changes weren't to come into effect til later.

Either way, my answer as a human being to your personal comment is this: the road I've taken has led me through some damned dark tunnels where I couldn't see the light at the end. I do know first-hand how it is to live on the edge of the abyss financially and mentally, and I'm really sorry you've got it rough. One of the reasons I have such high hopes for this proposal when it reaches its completed form is so that the incredible stress felt by anyone who has to deal with the system the way it is at the moment, and the stasi mentality of 'public servants' employed to administrate it, is eradicated.

Jen said...

Holy smoke. I do wonder if your interpretation of the outcome is a bit too optimistic, Steph, cos actually getting CI out of the coalition seems like an amazing ask.

But even if it just ended up with people having about the same amount of money, with none of the duplicated paperwork, hurrah.

It would stop the thing of being sent two letters when you first sign on, and often people getting the one saying "your contribution assessed claim - you will get £0" a day before the one saying something like "income assessed claim - £46.15 per week". The number of first-time doleys I've seen thrown in a tizz by that alone!